We expected a few fireworks when Katie Price entered the Celebrity Big Brother house, where the opinionated Katie Hopkins was dishing out her views on the world. The two Katies have history – previously spatting over Katie P’s decision to call her baby daughter Bunny and Katie H’s declaration that “behind every fat kid is a fat mum”.
Things started quietly, but after the initial cease-fire period, the pair have got into a row – over Harvey’s special travel arrangements to school.
Mum-of-5 Katie Price revealed to her CBB housemates that her disabled son Harvey’s travel to his special needs school is funded by her local authority, costing “up to £1,000 a day”. On hearing this, Katie Hopkins immediately suggested Katie P should pay for the treatment herself – as she’s worth an estimated £40 million.
“With the amount you earn I find that tricky, when you could afford it yourself,” Katie H said.
But Katie P argued that she pays her taxes so she has every right to have Harvey’s transport to and from school paid for by the local authority, and ultimately the tax payer.
“If you can pay for something you should pay for it, you shouldn’t rely on the Government… I think that’s wrong,” Katie H retorted.
And now the row has escalated with Nick Clegg joining in. The Deputy Prime Minister has backed Katie Price’s right to claim funding, stating that he supports the principle of funding children with disabilities regardless of their parents’ income.
“I just so happen to think the help we give in society to disabled children, which most people understand, is it’s better to provide universally,” he said on his weekly LBC radio phone-in. “Of course you get cases like this Katie Price but I would be pretty reluctant to say that on the basis of this individual case we throw out treating all children with disabilities with compassion where we can.”
Katie Price’s mum has also spoken out.”It is so hurtful people can criticise my daughter for doing the best she can for Harvey,” 62-year-old Amy Price told The Sun. “Katie Hopkins would never know how difficult having a disabled child can be.”
So what’s the story behind the row?
Representatives for Katie P have released a statement to explain Katie’s reasons for using government-funded transport for her 12-year-old son who’s autistic, blind and has a condition called septo-optic dysplasia.
The statement explains that Harvey was put in a special needs school outside his immediate home area by the local authority, as there isn’t a suitable school locally. Because of this, the local authority provides transport and a nurse to escort him in case he needs emergency life-saving injections to treat his condition, and this is “common practice” for disabled children. Indeed, Harvey has to travel an astonishing 50 miles daily to and from school.
“The cost of the school placement together with transport is not means tested as it is provided for the child,” the statement reads. “Local Authorities do not have special needs schools locally as these have been closed during the last 15 years as it was deemed a cheaper option to transport children out of borough. If Harvey’s school was on his doorstep as with schools for healthy children then this would not apply but it was the Government’s choice to close the special needs schools.”
The statement added a disclaimer about Katie’s £1,000 a day cost. “Kate’s calculation of £1,000 per day is based on hiring her private driver and a private nurse, to drive to and from her home to Harvey’s school twice a day (which is 1.5 hrs drive each way). This is not the sum the local authority pays.”
So do you think Katie should pay for Harvey’s transport to school herself or not? Let us know in the comments below.